Friday 28 Aug 2020
Network Rail brings new start for old railway depot in Kent
Demolition work is underway at a disused railway works in Kent to make room for a new train maintenance facility.
The old Chart Leacon depot in Ashford closed in 2014 and has lain empty since then. Now Network Rail contractors Balfour Beatty are taking it down in order to make room for five new railway sidings, where trains can be stored and undergo light maintenance.
This will also allow for the direct creation of 50 new jobs in the town alongside numerous other indirect jobs associated with activities on the site.
Network Rail Southern Region’s investment director Paul Harwood said: “Although it may seem strange to be talking about improving the capacity of the railway during COVID, we know the passenger numbers will grow again and this is a great opportunity for us to build for the future.
“Before COVID we were running more trains than ever before and one of the aspects we are really short of in Kent and South East London is places to keep them and look after them when they’re not running. By purchasing the whole site at Chart Leacon, as well as building five new sidings, we’re not only helping run a more reliable railway for today, but safeguarding the site for future railway use.”
Along with the sidings to store trains, Network Rail is also building offices and other facilities for staff.
Former employees at the site, which opened in 1961 when electric trains began running to Ashford, were given exclusive tours of the depot before the work got started.
Marion King, a former project account at the site, said: “I came as a data inputter for two weeks and stayed for 18 years. You felt part of a family here.
“When I saw a letter saying they were going to demolish this I put a note on the Facebook page for former staff here and asked if anyone could help us look round, and here we are. Thank you to Balfours and Network Rail for letting us do this!
“I’m sad it’s being demolished but I’m pleased it’s still going to be in the railway.”
Among the other visitors on Tuesday was 95-year-old Jim Skinner, who started on the site in 1961 in the very first intake of staff. He got to sit in his old office for one last time.
Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41
Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries
Network Rail press office - Chris Denham
Media relations manager (Kent)
020 3357 7969
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.